Turkey and Egypt in talks to reestablish ties but many issues remain unresolved
Egypt’s Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry says Cairo wants to restore relations with Turkey during current bilateral talks but many issues remain to be resolved.
A second round of talks was headed by Turkey’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sedat Önal and his Egyptian counterpart Hamdi Sanad Loza.
Turkey resumed diplomatic contact with Egypt this year and has looked to improve cooperation after years of tension since 2013.
Shoukry told Bloomberg: “I believe that the Turkish side understands [the requirements] well and can accomplish these things, and we hope that they will do so; so that we can move forward.”
He said West Asian crises in Yemen, Libya, Syria and Lebanon were all obstacles to be discussed with Turkey, adding that it is in the interest of the region to expand understanding and communication to increase stability.
Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said the talks with Turkey covered bilateral issues and the crises in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Palestine and the eastern Mediterranean. They have reportedly agreed to take additional steps to normalise bilateral relations.
Egypt and Greece in August 2020 signed an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) agreement delimiting maritime borders in the eastern Mediterranean. Greece and Turkey are due to hold talks to resolve a dispute with gas assets in the Mediterranean, which involves Cyprus and large untapped reserves.
Relations between Turkey and Egypt have been tense since 2013 when Egypt’s military toppled elected Muslim Brotherhood President Mohamed Morsi, who had close ties to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The countries’ ambassadors were both expelled and exchanges were carried out by the lower level of charge d’affaires. Erdogan called Egypt’s military-backed president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, a tyrant.
Turkey says it opposes the Muslim Brotherhood being declared a “terrorist” organisation in Egypt. Egyptian opposition television channels operate from Turkey although Ankara has asked them to moderate criticism of Sisi’s regime.
Ismail Numan Telci, deputy director of the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies in Ankara, told Turkey’s media that the talks are expected to be successful and that the normalisation of ties was “highly likely”.
He predicted that the two foreign ministers could meet during the United Nations General Assembly, which starts on September 14.
Telci said trust on both sides still needed to be established but appointing ambassadors will help.
On the maritime jurisdiction issue, Telci said: “One of the most important outcomes of the Turkey-Egypt talks [might be] an agreement on the delimitation of maritime jurisdiction in the eastern Mediterranean. However, this issue is a step that may come after the reappointing of ambassadors.”
The Arab Spring still divides Turkey and Egypt. Tahrir Square, Cairo, February 8, 2011. Picture credit: Wikimedia